GUITAR GABRIEL & TOOT BLUES
THE DVD - DIXIE FROG/MUSIC MAKER (1CD & 1DVD)
GUITAR GABRIEL CD - Wahoo Rap, She Been Gone Too Long, Ain't Gonna Let No Woman, Started Out This Morning, Going To New York, Miss You Like The Devil, John Henry, Old Man Rivers, Got The Right To Cry Sometimes, The Welfare Blues, Rock Me Baby, Baby Please Don't Go, Betty And Dupree, Done Got Tired, Meet Me In The Bottom, Landlord Blues, Key To The Highway, Running With Jesus Is Just Like An Automobile, Okalaka Blues, Left That Farm.
TOOT BLUES DVD starring Essie Mae Banks, Denise & Timothy Duffy, Boo Hanks, Guitar Gabriel, Beverly Guitar Watkins, Macavine Hayes, Drink Small, Willa Mae Buckner, Cootie Stark, Bishop Dready Manning, Elder James & Mother Marie Goins, Cool John Ferguson etc etc.
When Tim Duffy met Guitar Gabriel in the early nineties, he was inspired to launch The Music Maker Relief Foundation with the aim of "helping the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day to day needs. It's an organisation which brings security and aid to these wonderful musicians whose time is gone and whose music still stirs us". Guitar Gabriel had been playing his blues for donkey's years, since he was a teenager, but only making any waves in 1971 when he released a much lauded album for Gemini records under the name of Nyles Jones. My Blues My South created a minor sensation when it introduced his thrilling down home guitar sound - especially the best track on the album The Welfare Blues which went on to become a staple song for Albert King and many other blues bands of the day. He may not have hit the true big time but, never the less, Nyles/Gabriel is remembered with affection by blues fans worldwide. In the nineties he re-appeared on the Deep In The South compilation CD on Cello and since then Music Maker has spread the word by issuing some singles and a couple of albums plus there have been some contributions to various anthologies and other folk's albums.
Guitar Gabriel may not have been in the blues super league but everything he's done has been eminently worthwhile and on this collection of songs recorded in the early nineties, you get to hear the full range of his talent. The music is a mix of blues standards along with his own material performed as solo outings, or with Tim Duffy on second guitar, or in small combos with fiddle, harp and piano. It's an eccentric menu opening with Wahoo Rap - a great slice of medicine show material, Got The Right To Cry Sometime which features electric guitar and tremolo pedal, You Got To Watch Yourself - a song Tony Russell describes best as "outstandingly filthy" and Running With Jesus Is Just Like An Automobile where Gabriel shares vocals with his brother Pernell King.
The variety of recording venues includes live at gigs, friends living rooms, radio studios and a nursing home in North Carolina where Gabriel and his sister Lucille and an unidentified nurse have a helluva time blazing out a rambunctious version of Rock Me Baby! It's laid back, loose, fascinating stuff, especially on tunes like Old Man Rivers and Left That Farm when Gabriel's down-home, spoken introductions lead into his own peculiar renditions of Old Man River and Summertime where he sounds like a cross between Hoagy Carmichael and Richard Pryor! The only studio cuts are Ain't Gonna Let No Woman and the fabulous Welfare Blues, without which this CD just wouldn't be complete - both from Gabriel's My Blues My South album and they fit in perfectly with the rest of the good stuff on this CD.
The DVD Toot Blues is an excellent film which allows Tim and Denise Duffy to outline their aims with The Music Maker Relief Foundation as well as demonstrate the talent and energy of the artists they represent. It's a very professional job with tons of funky graphics, beautiful photography and snippets of some dynamite performances - and I mean dynamite. Wait until you see how Beverly Watkins handles her guitar or how Cool John Ferguson cranks out his far-out licks (where's he been hiding all these years?) and how John Dee Holeman plays his crystal clear country blues. There's some pretty hot music on this DVD as well as Tim and Denise documenting the way the foundation has grown, making it one of the more interesting films about the blues I've seen in many a year. Everybody should see it.
Review Date: May 2010